Drunk mother, boyfriend suffocate baby sleeping in bed with them

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FILE: Amy Leigh Howell, 30 and her partner Blessing Mayo suffocated her two-month old baby who was sleeping between them

A coroner has warned drunk parents about sleeping with their babies after a newborn child was found dead in his ‘smashed’ mother’s bed.

Amy Leigh Howell, 30, admitted she had been drinking at home in Bolton, Greater Manchester, last December when she put her two-and-a-half month-old son Teneil into a Moses basket in her bedroom at 11pm.

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard she and partner Blessing Mayo continued drinking before going to bed, but when the couple woke the child was lying motionless between them.

Deal of the day

When Miss Howell checked her son she found him lifeless after he was accidentally smothered by their bodies as they slept.

The emotional inquest heard how Teneil’s father had been deported to Nigeria prior to his birth and had never seen the child.

Following his deportation, Miss Howell had started drinking and sleeping with her baby in the same bed.

Miss Howell had recently met new partner Mr Mayo online and he had stayed at her house a number of times over the Christmas period in 2016.

Now a coroner has said she hopes the tragedy acts as a warning to other parents not to sleep while drunk with their babies in bed.

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Recording an open conclusion, Coroner Susan Duncan said: ‘This is clearly a tragic loss of a very young life and I’m mindful of the suffering for the family.

‘However, Teneil’s death highlights the risks associated with infants co-sleeping with an adult, particularly where the adult has a reduced awareness.

‘I hope the publicity touching this tragic death will alert parents to the impact of not sleeping with an infant.’

Highlighting how a health visitor had warned Miss Howell about co-sleeping with her baby, the coroner added: ‘Despite warnings of the risks of overlay, the evidence has shown that Teneil was found in the middle of his mother’s bed between her and her partner.

‘Both Teneil’s mother and her partner have confirmed that Teneil was put to sleep in his Moses basket.

‘However, it remains unclear how Teneil came to be in his mother’s bed and who put him there. Therefore, the exact circumstances remain unknown.

‘I accept that the most likely explanation, on the balance of probabilities, is overlay by an adult whilst sleeping.’

The court heard how on the evening of December 29, the pair were drinking vodka and put Teneil into the Moses basket at 11pm.

They continued drinking and checked on the youngster ‘every 10 to 15 minutes’.

Miss Howell, who told the court she rarely drank, described herself as being ‘smashed’ by the time she went to bed.

The next thing she recalled was being awoken by Mr Mayo shouting that the baby was in bed and not responding.

Miss Howell took the baby and turned the light on. She told the court: ‘As soon as the light was on I knew he was dead.’

Both Miss Howell and Mr Mayo said they were unaware of how the baby had got there.

An ambulance was called while Miss Howell attempted to administer CPR in an attempt to resuscitate the baby.

Teneil was admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital at 8.04am on December 30 but was pronounced dead 13 minutes later.

Dr Philip Lumb, a forensic pathologist, said he found four fractured ribs which appeared to have been caused by overlaying – accidental suffocation of an infant from a sleeping adult.

He concluded that the fractures appeared to have been sustained in the lead up to his death.

He also found evidence to suggest Teneil had been ‘lay on his front in contact with fabric’.

Greater Manchester Police officers questioned both Miss Howell and Mr Mayo following the incident.

But following a thorough review, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute due to a lack of evidence.